Steve Wynn shook the hand of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and walked the Gillette Stadium field Sunday afternoon as the Las Vegas casino developer met with Patriots owner Robert Kraft to discuss the potential for developing a hotel-casino project on undeveloped land adjacent to the suburban Boston sports complex about 30 miles south of Boston.
The Boston Globe reports that the emergence of a likely Wynn-Kraft partnership "has shaken up the competition for a coveted casino license, reshaping expectations of which developers are best positioned to cash in on the state's newest industry."
The meeting came just two weeks after Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation authorizing the development of three casino resorts and a slots parlor in the state, including one at an unspecified site in the Boston area.
NFL rules prohibit team owners from having a financial interest in casino properties, so Kraft would lease to Wynn land that had been earmarked for a biotech company. Plans reportedly could include a hotel, convention center, music hall, high-end restaurants and retail shops.
"Kraft and Wynn project $15 million in revenue a year for (Foxboro), and as many as 10,000 construction jobs and 7,000 permanent jobs with an average salary of about $40,000," The Boston Herald reported.
The proposal must win two-thirds approval of voters in Foxboro, where Gillette Stadium is located, and a license from a yet-to-be appointed state gaming commission.
A competing proposal to redevelop the Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston has reportedly won the support of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a longtime advocate of casino gambling in the cash-strapped state.
Images of Wynn and his wife, Andrea Hissom, with Kraft on a chilly Gillette Stadium field show the three engrossed in conversation before Sunday afternoon's game between the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts.
The Boston Globe reported that Kraft and Wynn had begun speaking with community leaders about their plans for the Foxboro site but would not wage a lobbying and public relations battle if they could not resolve residents' concerns. Critics say the project would have an adverse effect on Foxboro, a community of about 17,000 people, by generating an increase in vehicle traffic and a jump in alcohol consumption, gambling addiction and crime. Supporters say it would create jobs and broaden the community's tax base.
"If we can't solve (residents' concerns), we shouldn't do this deal," Kraft said. "And we'll walk away because both of us have other things to do, and this is not the be all and end all for us."
A month ago, Wynn met with Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower and city manager Jorge Gonzalez to discuss the development of a major casino resort project in South Florida. He is eyeing a 50-acre, city-owned parcel that includes a convention center, parking garages and city hall.
"I think that Miami Beach is the greatest site for a destination resort in the United States," Wynn told The Miami Herald shortly after the lunch meeting. "It has a huge footprint. Adjacent to a convention center that can be expanded and improved. It's a site that is close to the ocean."
Las Vegas casino developer Sheldon Adelson and Malaysia-based gaming operator Genting Group are actively lobbying for an expansion of South Florida casino development, which would require a vote of Florida state lawmakers. Native American tribes currently operate smaller gaming properties in the region.
Genting Americas President Colin Au has said that major casino resorts in Miami would lure high stakes gamblers from Las Vegas, particularly those based on the East Coast and in Texas, snatching $1 billion to $2 billion in annual revenue from Southern Nevada.